GNU Terry Pratchett

The news is a little old now, but I wanted to acknowledge Terry Pratchett’s passing.

He meant a lot to many of us, and his was the first celebrity death that affected me emotionally. His brand of fiction shaped the way I think about the importance of fantasy to our humanity. That phrase – “where the falling angel meets the rising ape” –  is crucial to the way I see myself, and humanity. If we have the humility to see ourselves as closer to earth than heaven, then we are moving upwards to greatness. That’s a positive message, and gives me hope for myself.

As my own little remembrance, I am offering a little code snippet. Webmasters can all contribute to an ongoing commemoration by setting the following HTTP header: X-Clacks-Overhead: GNU Terry PratchettContinue reading

Review: Kobo mini

I was recently at my local JB Hi-Fi browsing around (as most gadget geeks do) and noticed that the Kobo Mini had reached the impulse-buy price of $50. As part of her due diligence on a similar purchase, P had asked me to look at a bunch of e-readers and tablets and I had confirmed her conclusion that the Glo model was good. For my needs, though, I had stuck with the tablets I already owned (an iPad and a Nexus 7). Still, I figured that $50 would be worth experimenting with e-ink myself.

I’ve been using it for a couple weeks now, and here are my thoughts. Continue reading

In brief: The Rise of Endymion

At once too ambitious and poorly executed. There are some big ideas which, even though Simmons may have planned from the first pages of “Hyperion”, don’t really fit the feel of the first half of the cycle. You can tell this is the case because there is far too much exposition that the characters teach each other about 3000 years of computer and human evolution that takes pages and pages of long hard reading and concentration on part of the reader. This sermon-like approach to world building actually holds back the plot that it seeks to reinforce and accelerate.

Originally eager to read this book because I was caught up in a good story that had flowed from the first two “Hyperion” novels, by the time I was done with “The Rise of Endymion” I was exhausted and glad that it was over. I always worry when an author has difficulty keeping the size of each novel in a series consistent. “Hyperion” is slim, compact, and well-edited. By the time Simmons reaches “The Rise of Endymion”, the book is at least three times as long and the reader is not given any more value for their investment of time.

Hyperion

Hyperion and Fall of Hyperion are two intricately designed novels that reach backwards to draw inspiration from poetry and philosophy of centuries gone by to inform on a dark war between mankind, our evolution, and our subtle machine overlords in utopian future.

Sound familiar? It should. These two award-winning novels were written a decade before the Matrix series were released, and it’s hard not to draw parallels on many levels (specifically in terms of plot and philosophical influence). Continue reading